Rattle Your Walls

My walls are being rattled, my ceilings tremble as they’re pounded from above, and loud thuds are studding my early morning dreams.  I suppose it can’t be sovery early when the builders get going, up there, with their sledge-hammers and mattocks, but I’m no early riser.  ‘Up there’ is the flat above me, where – given the scores of rubble-filled sacks that line three flights of stairs and block up the hall – it looks like my neighbour is knocking down every internal wall and starting over.  Throughout the day, clouds of demolition stour mix with top-volume Craig David and pour down the stairwell in a haze of dusty music. I look around my own flat and wonder what was so wrong with his that he co-opted Wreck-It-Ralph to bring about such destructive change?  Admittedly, though, what appears chaotic right now might well be a penthouse by Christmas. Still, my eyes don’t light upon anything in my flat that needs a-changing, save, perhaps, for a new kitchen sink.

Wednesday night brought the usual this week: music night.  B. served up an old favourite on his guitar, rattling everyone’s walls with a stirring rendition of a Bob Dylan song.  It’s a night of largely Scottish and Irish music but B.’s choice – The Times They Are a-Changin’ – fitted right in.  Dylan wrote it in 1963; says he was influenced by Irish and Scots ballads, but he wanted to write a modern one, shaped as an anthem for change, and that’s what emerged from his creative rubble.  I listened as B. strummed then thumped the guitar, his voice rising to an urgent shout as he got to the last verse.  The lyrics resonated with me – they are as relevant as ever – I thought.  Until I thought further, about the rubble being heaved and down the stairs and the plasterboard lugged up – no doubt it was done 50 years ago and there’ll be another fit out in 50 years time, maybe sooner.  And I thought of that circular water wheel of change whereby the different generations – the parents and children who have never understood each other – will never understand each other.  It’s a song to be sung by a young person, I’ve decided; to be sung fresh faced, at a time when you are convinced all change is new, before you get to recognise reoccurring cycles.

The Saw Doctors are a bunch of ageing folk-rockers with a sense of humour from Tuam in the West of Ireland.  They been boiled in playful bedevilment and their songs give a wry take on life – especially life in Ireland.  One of their songs contains the line, “Bob Dylan says, times are changing, but l know they never will.”  I’m not planning to sink like a stone, but I think I’m with the Saw Doctors on this one.


The Times They Are a-Changin’, Bob Dylan

Come gather round people wherever you roam

And admit that the waters around you have grown

And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’.


Come senators, congressmen please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’.

It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’.


Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

And don’t criticize what you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

Your old road is rapidly agein’.

Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’.

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